Mark Potash: Analyzing the Bears’ first half, predicting the second

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Bears defensive end Akiem Hicks (96) celebrates with teammates Christian Jones (52), Jonathan Bullard (90) and Willie Young (97) after recovering a Ben Roethlisberger fumble during a 23-17 overtime victory against the Steelers in Week 3. (Nam Y. Huh/AP)

While the Bears are on a bye Sunday, Sun-Times Bears beat writer Mark Potash analyzes the first half of the season and predicts their chances for the second:

The Bears’ first half was:

A good start to a rebuild. Admitting the Mike Glennon error after four games was actually quick by Bears standards and gives rookie Mitch Trubisky a chance to grow. And the defense took an anticipated step, developing not only playmakers but depth to withstand injuries.

Reason for second-half optimism:

The Bears aren’t just building with overachievers. They have playmakers in Leonard Floyd, Akiem Hicks, Eddie Jackson and Trubisky and Jordan Howard on offense who not only have a chance to keep improving, but also bring others along with them.

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Reason for second-half pessimism:

As promising as Trubisky has been, the notion that he would “raise all boats” has not come to fruition. The lack of pass-catching weapons has become a drag on the offense in general and Trubisky as a prospect. The loss of Zach Miller to a knee injury aggravates that situation. And the offensive line hasn’t been consistent enough to take the offense to another level. The offense has a long, long way to go.

Mitch Trubisky will be:

Better in the second half than he was in the first, but still a couple of weapons short of establishing himself as a lock to be the Bears’ franchise quarterback. Barring injury, he’ll at least be more established at the end of his rookie season than the Rams’ Jared Goff was last season, which will provide offseason hope that if GM Ryan Pace can just get him better weapons, Trubisky will be the player the Bears expected.

Biggest need for improvement in the second half:

The offense — from top to bottom. Dowell Loggains has to prove he deserves to be the coordinator to develop Trubisky into the elite quarterback he potentially could be. Can he find a way to re-establish Tarik Cohen as a rushing threat after opponents caught on to the rookie late in the first half? And can he develop rookie tight end Adam Shaheen into the pass-catching threat he’s supposed to be? Do that, and we’ll be impressed.

Will the Bears have a player voted into the Pro Bowl? Who?

Defensive end Akiem Hicks and running back Jordan Howard currently have the best chances to be voted in even if the Bears win six or seven games. Other candidates: nose tackle Eddie Goldman, cornerback Kyle Fuller, safety Eddie Jackson and linebacker Danny Trevathan.

Bears’ record:

7-9. The schedule gives the improving Bears a chance to break through in the second half. But after so many disappointments following Super Bowl XLI, you have to see it to believe it.

Follow me on Twitter @MarkPotash.

Email: mpotash@suntimes.com

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